hello there. welcome to "newsline." it's wednesday january 2nd. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. politicians and pundits have warned for months of the dangers as the united states pushed closer to the fiscal cliff. they warned simultaneous tax increases and spending cuts would push the economy back into recession. members of the senate passed a bill aimed at steering the country away from the edge. but lawmakers in the house of representatives say they don't like the deal. the senate sent the bill to the republican-dominated house early on tuesday. it would raise taxes on people who made $400,000 or more and
couples that earn $450,000 or more. it maintains tax cuts for the middle class. the bill postpones by two months major spending cuts scheduled to start on wednesday. house democratic leader nancy pelosi called for a bipartisan agreement to head quickly to a vote. but house speaker john boehner said many republicans are unhappy and want to rework the bill. they're calling for more cuts to social security. that could set up a showdown with the senate and risk turmoil on financial markets. iran's navy conducted a six-day drill near the strait of hormuz in the persian gulf. it's the country's latest show of strength amid sanctions and criticism by the u.s. and europe over its nuclear development. the iranian navy launched missiles called ghader on tuesday successfully destroying its targets at sea. military analysts say the weapon was recently developed to attack
foreign warships deployed in the persian gulf. the navy has been holding the drill from the strait of hormuz to the northern part of the indian ocean. the area is the world's vital oil and gas shipping route. iran threatened to close the strait when it conducted a major drill a year ago. a navy spokesperson said the exercise is meant to show their defense capability. he said they have no intention of blocking the seaway. people in iraq have spent the beginning of the new year mourning dead family and friends. a series of bombings across the country has killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 80 others. investigators believe the attacks are a result of the ongoing conflict between shia and sunni muslims. a bomb went off on monday in a car parked in the karrada district in central baghdad. it killed five shia pilgrims and injured 25 others. other bombings apparently targeting shia muslims were reported in two more cities on the same day. police suspect sunni extremists
are targeting shia pilgrims on their way to a religious festival in the south in an attempt to deepen sectarian divisions. the deteriorating security situation is posing a major challenge for iraqi leaders and citizens. they're trying to rebuild after the 2003 war by capitalizing on the country's rich oil reserves. thousands of people waiting to go home. tons of debris waiting for disposal. vast tracts of land waiting to be restored. overcoming the challenges of japan's 2011 disaster won't be easy. but step by step people are moving forward. find out how on "the road ahead," every wednesday at 1:00 p.m. japan time right here on "newsline." people have responded to japan's disaster and its aftermath in many ways. media report on it.
academics study it. artists base works on it. one filmmaker picked up his camera soon after last year's earthquake and tsunami and headed to the northeast. he wanted to forge ties with survivors. so he called his documentary "katawara," which means "on your side" in japanese. nhk world's jun yotsumoto has the story. >> reporter: katawara has no narration and no dramatic story development. the camera just travels through japan's northeast and documents the aftermath of the disaster. showing people going o'about their daily lives, capturing the changing of the seasons. shin icheise directed the film. he spent decades making documentaries featuring people who face challenges.
he focuses on the preciousness of human life and the importance of individuals. the march 2011 disaster was the subject he couldn't ignore. no choice. i had to go to the disaster areas. i needed to make mental notes. >> reporter: ise's team went to watare in miyagi prefecture four days after the disaster to check on a friend. the tsunami had slammed the town. the friend and his family were safe. ise decided to film in watare, but he hesitated when he saw the extent of the devastation.
[ crying ] it was the right thing to do, to aim a camera at survivors in such a situation. one survivor yelled at us saying, "what's so fun about filming somebody's misfortune?" >> reporter: but ise was determined to document the struggle of survivors, so he kept filming and he captured many moments. announcers at a radio station reading the names of the deceased on the monthly anniversary of the disaster.
survivors honoring the loved ones they lost. with prayer. and by lighting lanterns to welcome spirits during the annual bone festival, a time when japanese family the souls of the deceased return to their families. ise also filmed survivors who went on the water to float paper lanterns bearing messages for the victims. each light represented the soul of the dead. >> translator: ordinary people are always forgotten as if they didn't exist. i want to really focus on those
people one by one. making films with this kind of focus to me means not forgetting >> reporter: the message is not lost on ise's audience. >> translator: i want to continue to have one part of my daily life that connects me with the disaster. >> translator: i don't know what i can do, but the film made me determined to live my own life to the fullest and do what i can to help others. >> translator: movies are powerful because they encourage audiences to concentrate on the story, to ponder during the course of a screening. i'm not sure if it will be three years, five years or ten years, but i'll dedicate myself to conveying the memory of the disaster. >> reporter: ise hopes
"katawara" will play in theaters across japan. but he wants people around the world to remember japan's disaster and to reflect on the preciousness of life and loved ones. jun yotsumoto, nhk world, tokyo. japan's population has logged a record drop. it shrank in 2012 for the sixth year in a row. this is the largest annual decline since records became available. estimates from the health and welfare ministry suggest 1.03 million people were born in 2012, the lowest number since the end of world war ii. more than 1.24 million died, the second most in the post-war era. about 8,000 more died in 2011 when the earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern japan. the total population decreased by a record 210,000. before 1950 an average japanese
woman had more than four children during her lifetime. in 2012, that figure stood at 1.39, about the same as it was before. the population is expected to continue aging and declining. japanese researchers will look deep into the pacific ocean for metals used in everything from cell phones to satellites. later this month they'll survey reserves of rare earth metals in the economic zone. the japan agency for marine, earth, and science technology will send a ship to an island about 2,000 kilometers southeast of tokyo. the ocean there is more than 5,000 meters deep. the researchers plan to extract samples of mud by sinking a pipe 20 meters into the seabed. then they'll analyze the types, densities, and locations of rare earth metals. a group from the university of tokyo found high concentrations of the metals in the area last june.
they estimated the deposits could satisfy japan's needs for those materials for more than 200 years. analysts at the u.s. geological survey says china accounts for 97% of global output of the metals. fresh or frozen? many gourmets say that's what separates a fine dining experience from a soggy tv meal. now a small japanese company is ready to send the question itself the way of the ice age. >> reporter: this high-end sushi restaurant in tokyo serves extremely good tuna. it's frozen, but you'd never guess. these are the advanced freezers which preserve the fish's freshness. the secret is magnetic waves. food is kept constantly vibrating so that ice crystals do not form.
this water is below freezing. it's in a state known as super cooled. it turns to ice at the slightest changing conditions. this is the key to freshness. these two sardines have been frozen and thawed. the super-cooled fish releases far less blood and water. seen under an electron microscope, the super-cooled cells on the left are unbroken. the conventional cells are virtually destroyed. in traditional freezing, water molecules in cells crystallize toward the surface. they expand and break through the cell walls. that's why when frozen food is thawed water and flavor components seep out. but supercooling combines ultrafast freezing with electromagnetic waves. the oscillation keeps the molecules moving. even below freezing, ice
crystals do not expand. on this day a luxury food service company from barcelona is sampling the supercooling freezers. this mushroom was frozen a year ago. >> it smells like the first day. >> mm-hmm. >> it's from last year. >> reporter: they also try an oyster. it's one year old, too. >> if you say it's frozen, then the people will say, uh, maybe the quality is not good. but if you don't say it, they won't notice. >> reporter: norio awade developed the technology. he was inspired by stories of 4 million-year-old mammoths being discovered unchanged. >> translator: i thought there must be a way to make frozen food last longer, like the mammoth.
>> reporter: he thought magnetic changes in the earth may have contributed to the phenomenon. he started by coiling copper wire around a cylinder for ho holding food to produce a magnetic field. he tried countless cylinders and magnetic technology, spending 40 years to make the freezer he has today. he can freeze food in its freshest state by preventing cells from breaking down. people outside the food industry have also begun paying attention. a new dental process enables patients to preserve their extracted teeth for implants in the future. this x-ray shows a transplanted tooth that was frozen by super cooling. a year after implantation, its
nerves are alive. >> translator: the more living cells there are, the better the chance of healing and a successful transplant. >> reporter: university researchers are also studying super cooling to preserve organs for transplant. >> translator: this technology has an enormous range of applications. i'd like to collaborate with specialists in every field. >> reporter: supercooling may change our food culture and health care. and in the future, we may even see restaurants boasting their food is so fresh it's frozen. japan's bullet trains are famous for being fast and punctual, and rightly so. on the major lines the average delay in a year is measured in seconds. that kind of timekeeping requires more than just the latest technology. here's a look at what's going on in the driver's cabin. >> reporter: for some people, punctuality is a virtue. for takanori usui it's a driving passion.
>> translator: my goal today is to be within one second of the schedule when passing stations and five seconds for station stops. >> reporter: usui has been driving bullet trains for ten years. today he is departing from shin-osaka station. his destination is tokyo, a journey of two hours 36 minutes. the automatic control system sets a maximum speed. depending on the spacing between trains. but the computer can't determine the optimum speed to stay on schedule. that is still in the hands of the driver. >> translator: maebara, 54 minutes 15 seconds. on time. in order to be on schedule, i calculate the speed by subtracting the distance to the next station from the distance to tokyo station. >> reporter: that number, 163, is the distance in kilometres from tokyo station.
usui uses this number to figure out the exact speed needed to arrive at the next stop on time. no computers for this calculation. it's all done in his head. nagoya station. so far usui has stopped at two stations and passed two others. on time to the second. but then -- >> translator: nagoya station, departing 15 seconds late. >> reporter: it took time getting the passengers on and off. usui accelerates. he wants to make up for the delay. but he has to be careful. if he goes too fast, he'll trigger the automatic brakes. nudging the shifter, usui keeps just inside the speed limit. time check.
>> translator: mikawa, passing, three seconds late. >> reporter: usui makes up the lost time over the next two stations. by the third station, he's got train and timetables synchronized again. >> translator: haromasu, passing on time. with the exception of the two through stations, usui has kept precisely to the schedule all the way to tokyo. >> translator: i was getting worried, but in the end i was able to keep my schedule. >> reporter: his 2 1/2-hour journey is recorded on a chip card. it's all there. speed, acceleration. even brake usage. second by second. on a good day usui's card is a record of driving perfection,
one his passengers will never see. that's fine with usui. his eyes stay fixed on the clock. populous, prosperous, pushing ahead. china's rise brought it wealth, power, and problems. an income gap divides its people. pollution threatens their health. and disputes at sea strain relations with its neighbors. find out the challenges china faces, on "newsline." the "new york times" says one of its correspondents was forced to leave mainland china after authorities declined to issue him a visa for 2013. the u.s. newspaper says the reporter and his family had to fly from beijing to hong kong on new year's eve. the "times" reported in october that chinese premier wen jiabao's family had amassed assets worth $2.7 billion. this included shares of major insurance firms.
wen's family issued a statement denying the claim. china's foreign ministry criticized the report. they said it was intended to create instability by smearing china and its leaders. the paper's shanghai bureau chief wrote the article about the wen family. he got his visa renewed for 2013. the "times'" website has been blocked within china since it published the investigation findings. supporters of china's imprisoned nobel peace prize laureate liu xiao beau have posted video online showing video of his wife under house arrest. it's intended to draw attention to how the government is treating the pro-democracy activist and his wife. the video was reportedly shot when the couple's friends visited her at her home in beijing last friday. it shows visitors entering the residence in defiance of a guard who tried to stop them. liu thanked her friends in the video and told them with tears in her eyes that her health had improved slightly. she also whispered into the ears
of one of her visitors while they repeated many times they to h. to leave soon. the scenes indicate chinese authorities are keeping her under strict supervision. liu xa has been under house arrest since the announcement in 2010 that the nobel peace prize had been awarded to her husband, who's serving an 11-year prison sentence. thousands of residents in hong kong have taken to the streets. they're demanding that the chief executive of the territory resign. some say leung chun-ying is a puppet installed by beijing. the police spokesperson said about 17,000 people participated in the rally. the demonstrators carried banners demanding that leung step down. they fear hong kong's increased dependence on mainland china could undermine their freedom. >> translator: hong kong is unique in china. it's different from other
provinces. i hope it keeps the spirit of democracy and judicial independence. >> leung took office last july, but residents have criticized him for a series of controversies. some say he misled them about illegal renovations of his home. others don't like when he tried to introduce compulsory patriotism classes in schools. the new leader of the china communist party met with liu wen last month in a show of support, but many favor a show of democracy for hong kong. the chief executive is chosen by an election committee made up of 1,200 members. kim jong un has delivered the first new year's speech by a north korean leader in 19 years. he said the country should put a priority on healing the rift with south korea. state-run korean central television broadcast kim's speech for more than 20 minutes. >> translator: what's important is to solve the confrontation between the two koreas.
south korea should scrap its anti-north policies and take steps toward reconciliation and unification. >> kim emphasized the recent successful launch of what the north claims is a satellite-carrying rocket. many other countries believe it was actually a test of long-range ballistic missile technology. >> translator: we should use the moment of the launch to open a new era of building a strong economy. this is our slogan for 2013, for the party and the people. we should continue to fly the flag of our military-first policy to boost our military power that will let us defend our safety and sovereignty. >> kim delivered the speech indoors. when applause was heard, the screen switched to a photograph of the building. no audience was shown. north korea's founder kim il sung delivered policy speeches on new year's day during his tenure. but under his successor, kim jong il, the messages appeared
as a joint editorial by three newspapers. many people are concerned about what actions north korea will take this year, following its launch of a rocket. a former diplomat with the u.s. state department shared his insights with us. evans revere has had a variety of informal contacts with high-ranking north korean officials. he says north korea's missile program is intended to give the north the upper hand in its negotiations with the united states, and he predicts more to follow. >> north korea's game plan, i believe, consists of several critical elements. one element is to continue to develop their nuclear weapons capability, and they are doing that. they've had a couple of nuclear weapons tests which have -- one of which did not work very well, one of which worked marginally successfully. and i suspect they're continuing to work on that and at some point in the future we'll see additional nuclear -- an additional nuclear test or tests from them.
north korea, i believe, is determined to become a de facto nuclear weapons state and to get the world to accept that. >> but revere says the u.s. should show its willingness to engage with north korea through dialogue. >> i think dialogue has an important utility in terms of dealing with north korea. it has a number of uses. it can help us explore north korean thinking, explore possible north korean flexibility, explore the reasons and reasoning behind their actions. it can help us develop a better sense of how the regime thinks and what its priorities are. but maybe most importantly for us, it can help us deliver strong and clear and important messages directly to the north koreans. but at the same time, we ought to be taking all of these other steps in terms of deterrence and defense and containment and